One of the most disappointing things I ever hear about is a Christian of one denomination running down another denomination. I don’t know why this happens but it does. People think their way of worship is better for some reason and they pass judgment on another style of worship or a variation of Christian doctrine that another denomination emphasizes.
Adam Hamilton in his book Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White has a varied theological past. He joined the Pentecostal Church at the age of 14 and was a member from 1978 until 1983. In 1983, he joined the Methodist Church.
In his chapter entitled “Being Pentecostal Without Losing Your Mind” he finds a way to explain what each denomination brings to the table. Both denominations provide effective ministries to people who want certain things. Both denominations believe in Jesus Christ.
Yet both denominations often do not see eye to eye.
I can use gross generalizations to describe a denomination but I don’t want to do that. As a way around that, I will describe my own Pentecostal worship experience which may be a valid way to open up a discussion.
I too have personal experience with both denominations. When I was “born again” in 1998, I was influenced a lot by Pentecostal pastors who counseled me. I was also counseled by a Methodist pastor and Methodist church members. I attended both worship services and grew to love both types of worship.
The Pentecostal worship service was thrilling. The preaching was exciting as the pastor pounded home his message using an impromptu speaking style. It seemed he was “spirit-led” and in fact he was. I remember his revealing to me that God had given him his message. What I think he meant was the Holy Spirit came upon him and he was given his words from God [a basic Pentecostal idea based on Scriptures like Acts 1:8].
The music was upbeat and joyous. You could clap, stomp your feet and many people in the audience sang along and raised their hands as they sang. There was a band with several musical instruments; they had a drum and guitars. It was fun and truly uplifting. I enjoyed myself in a way that was truly amazing.
Prayer in the worship service was in a word “fervent.” It was heartfelt as people poured out their concerns to each other and when the pastor asked if anyone would like to come to the altar, many people came forward, kneeling down for a long period of time. People from the congregation stepped up and put their hands on the prayerful. Often I could hear some words being used that I did not understand. Later, someone explained that as “speaking in tongues”. I was told to look up First Corinthians 14:2 where it says “For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit.” I then knew it was prayer directed from a worshipper’s heart straight to God.
I had been to many different worship services by 1998. I was 47 at the time. I had attended Catholic Mass, a Unitarian service, several Baptist worship services, Presbyterian, Disciples of Christ and on and on.
The Pentecostal service was something new and for me, it was something welcome.
Would some feel “out of their comfort zone?”
Yes of course.
But I did not. I saw positives in this worship that other people may not see. I had conversations with devout Christians in other denominations that lacked fire and passion about their faith. I am not being critical but more than once in my life I talked to a woman like Frances [cited in Hamilton’s book].
Frances was a saint of the church. She would do anything for her Lord or her church. She was involved with outreach projects that Pastor Hamilton had in one of the Methodist churches he pastored. “One week Frances had surgery. When I went to see her in the convalescent center, we began to talk about our faith. She told me, with tears in her eyes, that in all her life as a Christian she had never once actually felt God’s presence.”
We can’t make too much of Frances, but she longed for an experience with God. She longed for God to touch her heart. She longed for a word from Him. Hamilton describes her as a “tree in the forest, dry from drought.”
She longed for an outpouring from the Holy Spirit…Pentecost.
Tomorrow [What the Methodist worship experience can offer].